Matt has been dealing with kidney disease for his entire life, all 42 years of it. It has not knocked him down but made him stronger. Matt was born with Eagle-Barrett’s Syndrome. When he was born, he had about 10% function of his kidneys. The first ten years of his life, he considered it “normal.” He went to school, played with friends, and fought with his brother. Only in between all of that he went to the hospital periodically to run tests. Finally, at 10-years-old, he was told that his kidneys were in complete failure.
Just before his 11th birthday, Matt was put on the transplant list and started dialysis. He was on hemodialysis 4 hours a day, three days a week during the summer so he wouldn’t miss any school. His mother ended up donating her kidney to him on August 26, 1987. Matt went back to school later that year and actually ended up finishing 5th grade with the rest of his class.
There were many changes for Matt in middle school, just like most people. Unfortunately, his also included all the side effects from transplant medication like overgrowth of hair, moon face, and weight gain. He had a pretty tough three years, but still did what he could now that he was feeling healthier. He even ran for student council and became treasurer.
During his 8th grade year, Matt and his family moved from Coral Springs, Florida where he grew up to Alpharetta, Georgia where his life changed forever. The first few weeks in Georgia Matt ended up in the hospital, but that was just what happened every now and then. This visit was different. After going to an adult hospital in Miami for the past six years, Matt ended up at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He realized he wasn’t the only kid with kidney problems or who received a transplant!
A few years after moving to Georgia Matt’s kidney began to fail, so before he had to go on dialysis again, his father donated a kidney on October 6, 1994. Matt was a senior in high school and was still able to graduate with his class. After graduating, Matt attended Berry College for seven years. It took seven years because four years after he started his second kidney failed, and he had to go back on hemodialysis for most of 1999. His brother eventually gave him a kidney on October 7, 1999. Matt ended up graduating from Berry in 2002.
Ever since Matt was 16-years-old, he has been involved in the Transplant Community in Atlanta. Since 1992, he has been a counselor at a camp for transplant children, he has participated in the Transplant Games of America, and he volunteers at various transplant-related foundations. He is now working on a project of his own.
In 2015 Matt had to go back on hemodialysis for 13 months. After a long wait, he received his fourth kidney transplant from an amazing angel donor on February 24, 2016. Since that last transplant, Matt has been planning Scooting4Donors, a cross country organ donor awareness campaign. Matt will be going from Miami, Florida to San Francisco, California on a mobility scooter to register as many people as he can to become organ donors. He begins his journey on April 1, 2019.
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Jan Elf says
Amazing story! I’ve been on dialysis and a transplant list for 15 months. I have PKD. Polycystic kidney disease.
Rosemarie Kelley says
Amazing. On March 17, 2019, I will be celebrating my 42nd kidneyversary. My older sister was my donor. My numbers are great and I’m doing good.
That gives us a lot of hope. Thank you for sharing. ♡
Andy Bossov says
alex soria says
Tremendous effort and dedication by Matt. FYI, I contracted type 1, juvenile diabetes insulin dependent,
back in July, 1964 at 14 yrs. young. After 30 yrs. in Jan., 1990 both kidneys failed and had to undergo dialysis. Then on June 10,1990, I was very lucky to receive a donor kidney and pancreas– a dual organ transplant recipient. To this day almost 30 yrs. now, no organ rejection episodes from either donated organ. No dialysis and no daily insulin injections required since the transplant procedure. I THANK THE LORD AND MY DONOR (RIP) EVERY DAY. FYI, stay hydrated, take all prescribed meds and be mentally and physically active!! Moreover, I strongly recommend that perhaps the almost 2,500,000 prisoners in America be contacted to serve as organ donors, too. Will look good on their record.
Rosina Houle says
How do we find out Matt’s route so those who want to show their support?
Matt’s journey can be found here: http://scooting4donors.com/my-journey/
Karen Angell says
I will be with you in spirit Matt. My 2nd kidney transplant is scheduled for April. My sister donated 14 yrs ago and now my youngest sister is donating this time.
Roberta Dietmeyer says
I have been waiting 5 years 9 months for a kidney, I have Alports Syndrome and do dialysis 3 days a week for 3 hours 45 minutes. This is a awful way to live your life!
Amy Crabtree says
I was on hemo for 4 1/2 months and received my transplant July 2, 2016 from a deceased donor. I have PKD.
Carolyn Gunn says
I praise GOD everyday. I went on dialysis Oct 15, 1995, was transplanted March 23, 1999 and God have blessed me with the same kidney for 20 years this past March 23, 2019.
I have been waiting 7 years I pay in May I get in the list I’ve done everything asked of me including 3 surgery’s and lost a 100 lbs I pray it’s my time for a new kidney I’m only 46 and healthy I’ve lost my mom and brother I’m ready to be a successful person so please pray for me thank you this PKD is no joke I also pkL but so far so good